Western Digital has launched its Ultrastar Edge servers to support 5G networks and other communications in harsh environments.

If you’ve ever planning a trip to the Alaskan wilderness and want to stream live video of a bear chasing after you to your friends back home, you might want to take one of these along. The servers can deliver high speeds and capacity for real-time analytics, AI, deep learning, ML training and inference, and video transcoding at the edge.

In all seriousness, these Ultrastar Edge servers can be lifesavers when it comes to creating rugged networks in harsh remote environments, the company said.

An expansion for WD

The servers are part of Western Digital’s effort to provide the foundation for the world’s essential data infrastructure. Western Digital will use the servers to bring computing power closer to where data is generated for faster processing, lower latency, and real-time decision-making, even when disconnected.

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With the growing adoption of 5G, internet of things, and the cloud, businesses and consumers expect super-fast performance with their applications. This is creating demand for new, distributed intelligent architectures outside of core datacenters to help ingest, analyze, and transform data at the edge. In addition, organizations are running applications in extremely remote locations, such as deserts, seas, or jungles, and are driving the need for ruggedized compute and storage where networks can be expensive, intermittent, or nonexistent.

Designed for cloud service providers, telcos, and system integrators, Western Digital’s Ultrastar Edge servers are meant to be easy to transport and deploy and scale in the field, at colocation (colo) facilities, in factories, or in remote datacenters. The new family includes the Ultrastar Edge-MR, an extremely rugged, stackable, and transportable server for military and specialized field teams working in harsh remote environments, and the Ultrastar Edge, a transportable two-unit, rack-mountable server with a portable case for colos and edge datacenters. Both solutions are now sampling and can be ordered with general availability beginning in the fourth quarter.

Why it matters

Above: Western Digital’s Ultrastar Edge server is rugged.

Image Credit: Western Digital

Manoj Sukumaran, senior analyst for datacenter compute at Omdia, said in a statement that more computing capacity is needed at edge locations as latency-sensitive applications proliferate. He said he expects server deployments at edge locations to double through 2024, totaling an estimated 5 million units, as they are an essential component in enabling new innovations and products, cloud services, remote campuses, CDNs, and virtually any vertical industry that relies on IoT, sensor, or remote data.

In the world of 5G and IoT, computing must happen at the edge — closer to devices, end-users, and the machines that are generating the data — he said, particularly where latency and bandwidth are essential factors for success. He said he is glad to see Western Digital enter the market, as the industry needs reliable products from trusted vendors.

Kurt Chan, VP of datacenter platforms at Western Digital, said in a statement that as a storage technology leader, Western Digital is constantly anticipating how it can continue to serve customers’ needs. The growth in data creation at the edge, the opportunities to extract value from that data, and the total available markets and customers innovating and doing work at the edge give the company an opportunity to launch its servers.

The specs

Above: Western Digital’s Ultrastar Edge from the rear view.

Image Credit: Western Digital

The Ultrastar Edge-MR is a rugged, stackable solution that is designed and tested in accordance with MIL-STD-810G-CHG-1 standards for limits of shock and vibration. It also conforms to the MIL-STD-461G standard for electromagnetic interference. And the unit is rated IP32 to provide protection against water and debris. Whether conducting a military operation, doing research in the Amazon, or analyzing data during oil and gas explorations, the Ultrastar Edge-MR can handle extremes, Western Digital said. Both Ultrastar Edge solutions also feature the Trusted Platform Module 2.0, a tamper-evident enclosure built to meet FIPS 140-2 Level 2 security standard to help store, secure, transfer, and disseminate sensitive data. Aeon Computing is one of several partners.

The core of each Ultrastar Edge solution is a durable, high-speed server that supports up to 40 cores with two Intel Xeon Scalable Processors. It also has an Nvidia T4 graphics processing unit (GPU), and eight Ultrastar NVMe SSDs providing up to 61TB of storage. It features two 50Gb Ethernet connections or one 100Gb Ethernet connection for sending critical data back to the cloud or datacenter when connected.

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